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Preview: Lakers vs. Knicks

December 25, 2012|By Eric Pincus

The Lakers get a quick chance to avenge their 116-107 loss on Dec. 14 to the Knicks with a Christmas Day visit from New York. 

Carmelo Anthony led his team to a quick 14-point lead after the first quarter, the Knicks scoring 41 in just 12 minutes.  Anthony left with an ankle injury in the third quarter but the damage was done.  His 30 points in 23 minutes helped give New York enough of a cushion to withstand a late Lakers' rally.

Now the Lakers have both Steve Nash and Pau Gasol back from injuries.  The team has won four in a row, including two recent comeback victories over the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Bobcats.

The Knicks (20-7) are one of the best teams in the league this season.  The Lakers (13-14) are trying to get back to .500 and climb into the top eight in the Western Conference.

Key Matchup

If Anthony is going to score at will like he did in New York, the Lakers are going to have an uphill battle.  The Knicks have moved Anthony to power forward, where he's averaging 28.3 points a game.

The Lakers start Gasol at the four but Coach Mike D'Antoni wouldn't tip his hand on Monday as to how his team will look to stop Anthony.  Metta World Peace has recently moved to the bench where he's playing both power and small forward.  D'Antoni noted World Peace will not start Tuesday against the Knicks.

D'Antoni may go with Devin Ebanks at the three with Kobe Bryant at two.  He might stick with Bryant at small forward and initially ask Gasol and/or Bryant to pick up Anthony.

X-factor

Jason Kidd has been a boon for the Knicks and he still guards Kobe Bryant well (although Kidd isn't quite as mobile as he used to be).  In his early days in the league, Kidd couldn't shoot.  Now he's a dead-eye threat from the outside.

Nash showed in his debut that the Lakers are a different team when he's running the show.  Beating the Knicks would be a big win for the Lakers and they'll need Nash's leadership to make that happen.

Outlook

The Knicks are a major threat this year either at home (12-2) as well as on the road (8-5).  They've already beaten the Lakers once but now with Nash back, the Lakers are a very different team.

With a lot of ground to make up in the West, the Lakers certainly are more desperate for a win . . . that should be enough to make it five in a row.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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